Shell

Only to­day, mu­til­i­ated, she rises in des­o­la­tion.
I saw al­most the last days of her splen­dor, in the fever of August 1914. I saw her naves full of sol­diers who came to pre­pare them­selves to die well. The faith­ful crowded in, aquiver with prayer or an­guish. In the morn­ing there was si­lence as the car­di­nal most fer­vently of­fered a mass for France; it was like be­ing on the eve of a mar­tyr­dom, be­cause we ex­pected somet­ing too great. Because of their an­guish he had wanted to come and pray with his peo­ple, and, lit by the sparkling glow of stained glass win­dows, he seemed to ex­ist in the peace of a fi­nal day, as if he were haloed, al­ready be­yond hu­man­ity.
— (image) Collier’s New Photographic History of the World’s War (1919), page 86.

The views con­structed by ar­chi­tects on their draw­ing-board and CAAD sim­u­la­tions are imag­i­nary, and notwith­stand­ing, the city re­veals its struc­tures only un­der mo­ments of era­sure. Here we must dis­tin­gush be­tween the view of a city un­der de­struc­tion and the bom­bardier’s view and qual­ify the two ob­server po­si­tions as they in­stan­ti­ate a spa­tial or­gan­i­sa­tion. We ev­i­dence, re­spec­tively in these ob­server po­si­tions, an ar­chi­tec­tural po­si­tion and po­si­tions of dis­ci­plines that have alien­ated from the ar­chi­tec­tural in time, yet these dis­ci­plines con­tinue to op­er­ate on the city.

— A city ma­chine: A con­cise his­tory of 20th cen­tury cities as cap­tured un­der shell­fire.

September 19<sup>th</sup> , 1919 — the first German shell bursts on the cathedral during the First World War. "The Cathedral of Notre Dame at Rheims was one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The framework was still standing when the Germans began their drive in 1918. In this instance shells burst on the cathedral before the eyes of many spectators."
September 19th , 1919 — the first German shell bursts on the cathe­dral dur­ing the First World War. The Cathedral of Notre Dame at Rheims was one of the most beau­ti­ful build­ings in the world. The frame­work was still stand­ing when the Germans be­gan their drive in 1918. In this in­stance shells burst on the cathe­dral be­fore the eyes of many spec­ta­tors.” Source: Collier’s New Photographic History of the World’s War” (1919), page 86.

Footnotes

  1. Georges Bataille in Notre-Dame de Rheims: To some youths of Haute-Auvergne (~1920 or ~1940)